SPAIN’S unions and the government are at loggerheads over how many civil servants went on strike yesterday.

The two largest unions insisted that up to 75 per cent of the country’s 2.3m public sector workers did not turn up for work.

But the government claims that only 11 per cent of its employees stayed away – although its figures only included central offices.

“Why should we pay for the worldwide financial crisis?”

Regional administration offices or public services were not included in the official breakdown.

Hundreds of public sector workers gathered outside Madrid’s Economy Ministry brandishing red union flags.

“Why should we pay for the worldwide financial crisis?” said Maria Zaragoza, a civil servant.

Across the country, more than a third of airport workers joined the strike while many buses and regional train services were either delayed or cancelled.

Furthermore, some hospitals only treated emergency cases and the nation’s courts were closed.